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Indian markets have recently thrown open a new avenue for retail investors and traders to participate: commodity derivatives. For those who want to diversify their portfolios beyond shares, bonds and real estate, commodities is the best option.
Till some months ago, this wouldn't have made sense. For retail investors could have done very little to actually invest in commodities such as gold and silver -- or oilseeds in the futures market. This was nearly impossible in commodities except for gold and silver as there was practically no retail avenue for punting in commodities.
However, with the setting up of three multi-commodity exchanges in the country, retail investors can now trade in commodity futures without having physical stocks
Commodities actually offer immense potential to become a separate asset class for market-savvy investors, arbitrageurs and speculators. Retail investors, who claim to understand the equity markets may find commodities an unfathomable market. But commodities are easy to understand as far as fundamentals of demand and supply are concerned. Retail investors should understand the risks and advantages of trading in commodities futures before taking a leap. Historically, pricing in commodities futures has been less volatile compared with equity and bonds, thus providing an efficient portfolio diversification option.
In fact, the size of the commodities markets in India is also quite significant. Of the country's GDP of Rs 13,20,730 crore (Rs 13,207.3 billion), commodities related (and dependent) industries constitute about 58 per cent. Currently, the various commodities across the country clock an annual turnover of Rs 1,40,000 crore (Rs 1,400 billion). With the introduction of futures trading, the size of the commodities market grow many folds here on. Like any other market, the one for commodity futures plays a valuable role in information pooling and risk sharing. The market mediates between buyers and sellers of commodities, and facilitates decisions related to storage and consumption of commodities. In the process, they make the underlying market more liquid. Any product that can be used for commerce or an article of commerce which is traded on an authorized commodity exchange is known as commodity. The article should be movable of value, something which is bought or sold and which is produced or used as the subject or barter or sale. In short commodity includes all kinds of goods. Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 1952 defines goods as every kind of movable property other than actionable claims, money and securities.
In current situation, all goods and products of agricultural (including plantation), mineral and fossil origin are allowed for commodity trading recognized under the FCRA. The national commodity exchanges, recognized by the Central Government, permits commodities which include precious (gold and silver) and non-ferrous metals; cereals and pulses; ginned and un-ginned cotton; oilseeds, oils and oilcakes; raw jute and jute goods; sugar and gur; potatoes and onions; coffee and tea; rubber and spices.etc.